Photo by Alex D'Addese

Rossi wins OUA Community Service Award

By Ontario University Athletics (OUA)

BURLINGTON, Ont. – Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is pleased to announce the 2018 women’s soccer major award winners and all-stars, with two of the conference’s most electric and reliable scorers highlighting this year’s crop of standouts.

Most Valuable Player (East Division) – Jenny Wolever, Queen’s Gaels
For the second consecutive season, a Queen’s Gael has earned top-billing in the East Division, as Jenny Wolever (Toronto, Ont.) has received the 2018 Most Valuable Player award.

An undisputed offensive star for one of the country’s top teams, Wolever paced the conference in points this year with 18, while ranking second in goals with 13. Serving as captain for the Tricolour, Wolever alone made up 38% of her team’s total goals this season and averaged more than a marker per game during the first 12 matches of the year.

The now three-time all-star, who earns a spot on the first team for the first time in her decorated career, was also a catalyst for the team’s success. When she goes, the team goes, playing their way to a 7-0-1 record when Wolever finds the back of the net. Her dominance also sparked several teams to double and even triple-team her over the final stretch of the season, and with her four multi-goal games, including a hat trick in their season opener, it’s easy to see why.

It takes more than a single player to bring a team to the top-10 ranks; however, which stands to reason why the team boasts an all-star laden roster up and down the field. Backing Wolever in the midfield is Lidia Bradau (Woodbridge, Ont.), who picks up her third OUA all-star nod as a constant, reliable, and leading force for the Gaels. On the back-end, meanwhile, the Gaels also have a pair of all-stars, with Alicia Levy (Mississauga, Ont.) and Jamie Foot (North Vancouver, B.C.) earning their first nods.

Most Valuable Player (West Division) – Victoria Hinchliffe, Guelph Gryphons
Someone who also knows a thing or two about finding the back of the net is the OUA’s West Division MVP, Victoria Hinchliffe (Guelph, Ont.). After racking up nine goals in her 2016 Rookie of the Year season, wherein she became the first Gryphon to win the first-year award, Hinchliffe has continued to break new ground for the Guelph squad. And this year, she becomes the first player in program history to be named MVP.

She scored 12 goals on the season, ranking her third in the conference and country, showcasing that as one of the team’s leaders, she is adept at letting her actions do the talking. Beyond her offensive touch, she is also one of the hardest working attacking players in the defensive phase of the game, and as her coach, Shayne Campbell, explains, “it is a real privilege to coach Hinch”.

Coach of the Year (West Division) – Shayne Campbell, Guelph Gryphons
Hinchliffe isn’t the only player that Campbell has enjoyed coaching; however, and the proof is in the pudding. The guidance of the Gryphons bench boss has been key to the team’s success over the past two seasons, as he once again led them to one of the OUA’s best regular seasons. A former player with the Gryphons himself, the second-year head coach has also spent several seasons as an assistant with the team, but after leading the team to a 12-1-3 record in 2018 , a first-place finish in the West Division, a +27 goal-differential, and a total of five all-star selections, it is clear the Campbell is doing wonders at the head of the Guelph program.  

Among the remaining Guelph selections is goaltender Libby Brenneman (Baden, Ont.), who was the definition of unbeatable between the pipes this season. The star keeper didn’t allow a goal en route to her nine clean sheets (tied for the OUA lead), making 16 saves on the year to keep her flawless season intact.

In front of Brenneman, Alyssa Hodgson (Burlington, Ont.) gets the nod as a first-team defender, while Jenna Holtz (Tacoma, WA) cracks the first-team roster at the midfield position, capping off her well-rounded two-way season with a pair of goals. Holtz’s running mate in the midfielder, Ann-Carolyn Lang (Toronto, Ont.) earns a spot on the second-team in her senior year as well.

Coach of the Year (East Division) – David Bitonti, Nipissing Lakers
The top bench boss in the East Division comes from Nipissing, as the Lakers’ David Bitontiis this season’s Coach of the Year. Bitonti put together an impressive roster for the fourth-place finishers in the East, proving all year long that they were a serious threat.

Among the many highlights for the team this year was a sparkling record against the OUA’s top-ranked squad, Ottawa. Nipissing brought their A-game against this top talent, handing the Gee-Gees their only loss and tie of the year. Efforts like this, which came from a collection of rookies and veterans as well as skill and hard work, helped Nipissing secure a 12-point improvement from a season ago, finishing with a 7-4-5 record and a spot in the 2018 postseason.

Beyond Bitonti, many members of his squad are also being recognized for their tremendous seasons, including one first-team and three second-team all-stars.

Madison Logan (Keswick, Ont.) had another solid season offensively, as the second-team all-star notched six goals and added two assists for a share of the team lead with eight points. She also ranked second on the Lakers with a pair of game winners. Fellow sophomore Abby Wroe (Collingwood, Ont.) also followed up on her strong rookie season to secure the first-team nod. The team’s co-captain provided the Lakers with leadership and stability defensively, while helping to also transition into the offence. She started all 16 games in her second season with the team, chipping in with two goals during that span as well.

Lauren de Jong (Whitby, Ont.) also showcased her defensive skills as well en route to her second-team selection in her rookie campaign. Alongside her on the back line was fellow defender Andrea Dermott (Milton, Ont.), who was just about unbeatable this season on one-vs.-one plays in her fourth year with the Lakers.

Rookie of the Year (East Division) – Emma Twohey, Trent Excalibur
While several of the Nipissing all-stars are coming off strong rookie seasons, a member of the Trent Excalibur just put the finishing touches on her first campaign, doing so to the tune of the East Division’s Rookie of the Year award.

Emma Twohey (Peterborough, Ont.) made a significant contribution to the team this season, collecting six points along the way. She also found herself in the thick of the offensive attack on a regular basis, ranking fifth in the OUA after peppering 50 shots on the opposition. She is a player that is only going to get better as she continues her playing career with Trent, thanks to her knack for getting herself in good spots on the field and her ability to finish from distance.

Joining Twohey as conference standouts this season are Abigail Hubble (Peterborough, Ont.), who is at the other end of the spectrum after finishing off her fifth year with Trent. Since switching positions two season ago, Hubble has been a tenacious defender in the centre back position and is a big reason that the Excalibur were able to cut down their goals against from last season. One of the hardest workers on the team, she is also joined by fellow defender Tori Chia (Courtice, Ont.), who is a composed central player with great vision on the pitch. She is a tireless worker and one of the team’s leaders.

Rookie of the Year (West Division) – Kalifornia Mitchell, York Lions
York played their way to the No. 2 seed in the West Division this season, and while many Lions contributed to the successful campaign, one of the best was Rookie of the Year, Kalifornia Mitchell (Ajax, Ont.).

The first-year player started all 16 games for the Lions and contributed four goals and two assists along the way. She scored the first goal of the season for York and the first goal of her career in the season opener against the Western Mustangs and ended up tied for third in goals on the team. Mitchell also recorded 13 shots on goal, along with one game-winner this season.

A veteran Lion and fellow midfielder played her way to provincial recognition as well, thanks to her team-leading scoring efforts. Christina Morelli (Markham, Ont.) picks up her first first-team all-star award after being named to the second-team last season. She capped off an outstanding Lions career with her best season yet, and in addition to netting a team-leading 10 goals, Morelli also paced the club in shots (34), shots on goal (24), and game winning goals (3). Her 10 tallies also ranked fifth in the OUA.

The Lions’ third and final first-teamer is defender Teni Odetoyinbo (Mississauga, Ont.). The sophomore made huge strides in her second year with the Lions as the team’s starting centre back. Odetoyinbo started all 16 games and was a force on defence in shutting down the opposing team’s attack.

Making their way onto the second team are two more members of their back line. Jessica Lush (Beaver Bank, N.S.) stood tall all season long and also chipped in on the offensive end, scoring two game-winning goals for the team in back-to-back games early on. Abbey Young (Mississauga, Ont.) found all-star worthy success in her first season for the club. Joining the team after four years with the Western Mustangs and a year away from the OUA, she picked up where she left off playing outstanding defence as the team’s starting left full back.

Community Service Award (West Division) – Tamara Orlando (York Lions)
While several York players made their mark on the field, including Tamara Orlando (East York, Ont.) who posted six shutouts and a 1.04 goals-against average, the impact that York’s goalkeeper had off the field may be even more significant, helping her win the 2018 Community Service Award.

Among the many initiatives the Orlando has gotten involved with are CAMH, which promotes mental health awareness; Camp Quality Southern, a camp for children with cancer; and Shoreham Clinics, wherein she volunteered at lunch to host sports, games, and more for students. Orlando also helps to organize the annual food drive, collects donations for Keep Toronto Warm, and volunteers for Cup4Care. All in all, Orlando is selfless with her time and dedicated to helping others to make an impact off the field.

Community Service Award (East Division) – Gillian Rossi, Ryerson Rams
Whether in the classroom, in the community, or abroad, Ryerson’s Gillian Rossi (Mississauga, Ont.) has also shone bright, helping her get recognized as this year’s East Division Community Service Award recipient. From her involvement in a girls-only soccer program that builds skills and self-confidence to international giving as part of Ryerson’s Humanitarian Trip; from her work within the school to execute a futsal tournament to raise funds for SAMHI to her involvement with Rams Care; and with an abundance of academic success and recognition, Rossi epitomizes this award by making a difference in everything she gets involved with.

A host of other OUA talents played their way to all-star selections this year, as well, and when it comes to coming keeping the ball out of the net, two of the best in the business represent their sides in the East Division. On the first team is RMC’s Claudia Rusu(Toronto, Ont.), who is as complete a goaltender as there is. Her distribution, shot-stopping, and command of the penalty area, are among her many strengths. She has faced a barrage in net this season, leading the OUA in saves along the way. Among her many dazzling stops are three via the penalty kick, giving credence to why many of her peers call her the most difficult goalkeeper they’ve faced.

Standing tall for the second-team is Caitlin McNamara (Ottawa, Ont.), who is another of the best shot-stoppers in the OUA. Her calmness between the pipes make her a key cog of the Laurentian Voyageurs success, while her distribution skills are the icing on the cake for the assistant captain’s impressive skill set. A similarly determined effort is seen from fellow Voyageur and second-team all-star Catherine Rocca (Woodbridge, Ont.). The fourth-year midfielder is outstanding when it comes to winning the ball in the air and on the ground, while her physical presence and ball distribution makes her one of the toughest to play against.

Among the best at putting the ball in the net, meanwhile, is the conference-leading Ottawa Gee-Gees (14-1-1), who see five players represented as all-stars this year. The team’s leading scorer, Emma Lefebvre (Kingston, Ont.) strikes as a second-team recipient. After being among the leaders in the conference’s top scorers and passers, the third-year striker tied Gaels’ Wolever with 18 points on the year to anchor the Gee-Gees potent offence. But the talent keeps rolling across the field for Ottawa, with midfielders Miranda Smith (Ottawa, Ont.) and Katherine Bearne (Halifax, N.S.) stepping up next.

The talented twosome is among the most technically sound at their positions, leading by example in both the offensive and defensive side of the game. They apply pressure against the opposition, but can also turn that into production, balancing all the elements of the game with the best of them. Wrapping up her Gee-Gees career, meanwhile, is Kayla Da Costa-Pacheco (Gatineau, Que.), who continues to demonstrate her speed, strength, and technical skill in her final season. Fellow defender Lauren Da Luz(Coquitlam, B.C.) rounds out the first-time representatives from the nation’s capital. 

Fifth-year striker Chelsea Cheung (Toronto, Ont.) earns her third consecutive second-team all-star honour in 2018. The commerce major co-led the Blues with six goals, including two game-winners, in the regular season. She also scored the lone goal in a 1-0 upset playoff victory over the third-seeded Carleton Ravens, which marked U of T’s first post-season win since 2014.

Also adding a third all-star nod to her resume is UOIT’s Taijah Henderson (Ajax, Ont.). The back-to-back first-team all-star was also named a second-team All-Canadian a year ago and remains one of the fastest and most dangerous strikers in the conference. Another decorated Ridgeback earns a spot on the first team, as former OUA Rookie of the Year Katherine Koehler-Grassau (Greely, Ont.) continues her stretch of dominance. The now five-time all-star and team captain remains one of the most versatile and skilled players across Ontario. Rounding out UOIT’s contingent is two-time all-star Mikaela Tierney (King City, Ont.), who earns her first first-team nod to join her two teammates.

The Badgers boast a trio of second-team reps, highlighted by team captain Marilena Spagnolo (St. Catharines, Ont.). Brock’s goalkeeper single-handedly won several games for the St. Catharines squad this season with her strong play in net, coming through with clean sheets against some of the top squads in Canada. She was also voted MVP by the opposition in more than half the games this season. In front of the talented goaltender are fellow second-teamers Brianne Desa (Pickering, Ont.) and Samantha Bayer(Burlington, Ont.).

While Bayer serves as a second-team striker, the first team sees the conference’s top scorer take on the same role, as Stephanie Roberts (Ottawa, Ont.) secures the spot for McMaster. The prolific fourth-year striker capped off her U SPORTS-best total (16) with a five-goal explosion on the final weekend of the season. Roberts’ teammate, Grace Grafham (Burlington, Ont.), earns her second straight nod thanks to her vision, poise, and intelligence at the midfield position, while Mary Craig (Toronto, Ont.) doubles up on her all-star selection from a year ago as well from the central defender position.  

Pauline McCordic (North Vancouver, B.C.) was a rock for the Golden Hawks this season, as the fifth-year defender provided veteran leadership for a young Laurier squad. In addition to anchoring the back-end, she also scored twice, both game-winners, in her 15 starts on the year. Teammate Gagan Parhar (Surrey, B.C.), meanwhile, was among the best when it came to finding the score sheet, finishing tied for seventh in league scoring. The third-year forward led the team with seven goals, tying her career high, including a streak of five goals in four games which ultimately helped Laurier secure a playoff spot, as well as three game-winners.

Galloping their way to the final spots on the West Division all-star rosters are a host of Mustangs, as the purple ponies saw significant contributions from a number of players this season. Highlighting their recipients is last year’s Rookie of the Year, Giulia Geraci(Bradford, Ont.), who parlayed her strong debut season into a dynamic encore en route to another OUA Final Four appearance. Defender Angelica Galluzo (Newmarket, Ont.) also makes the first-team group for Western in her first-season, while another midfielder and defence duo – Jessica Viera (Strathroy, Ont.) and Lauren O’Donnell (London, Ont.) – round out the second-team crew.

The complete list of 2018 women’s soccer major award winners and all-stars is as follows:
Most Valuable Player (East) – Jenny Wolever, Queen’s
Most Valuable Player (West) –Victoria Hinchliffe, Guelph
Coach of the Year (East) – David Bitonti, Nipissing
Coach of the Year (West) – Shayne Campbell, Guelph
Rookie of the Year (East) – Emma Twohey, Trent
Rookie of the Year (West) – Kalifornia Mitchell, York
Community Service Award (East) – Gillian Rossi, Ryerson
Community Service Award (West) – Tamara Orlando, York

First Team All-Stars (East)
Goalkeeper – Claudia Rusu, RMC
Defence – Kayla Da Costa-Pacheco, Ottawa
Defence – Mikaela Tierney, UOIT
Defence – Abby Wroe, Nipissing
Defence – Lauren Da Luz, Ottawa
Midfielder – Katherine Bearne, Ottawa
Midfielder – Lidia Bradau, Queen’s
Midfielder – Katherine Koehler-Grassau, UOIT
Midfielder – Miranda Smith, Ottawa
Striker – Jenny Wolever, Queen’s
Striker – Taijah Henderson, UOIT

Second Team All-Stars (East)
Goalkeeper – Caitlin McNamara, Laurentian
Defence – Alicia Levy, Queen’s
Defence – Jamie Foot, Queen’s
Defence – Abigail Hubble, Trent
Defence – Lauren De Jong, Nipissing
Midfielder – Chelsea Cheung, Toronto
Midfielder – Andrea Dermott, Nipissing
Midfielder – Tori Chia, Trent
Midfielder – Catherine Rocca, Laurentian
Striker – Madison Logan, Nipissing
Striker – Emma Lefebvre, Ottawa

First Team All-Stars (West)
Goalkeeper – Libby Brenneman, Guelph
Defence – Teni Odetonyinbo, York
Defence – Alyssa Hodgson, Guelph
Defence – Pauline McCordic, Laurier
Defence – Angelica Galluzo, Western
Midfielder – Christina Morelli, York
Midfielder – Kalifornia Mitchell, York
Midfielder – Jenna Holtz, Guelph
Midfielder – Giulia Geraci, Western
Striker – Victoria Hinchliffe, Guelph
Striker – Stephanie Roberts, McMaster

Second Team All-Stars (West)
Goalkeeper – Marilena Spagnolo, Brock
Defence – Abbey Young, York
Defence – Mary Craig, McMaster
Defence – Jessica Lush, York
Defence – Lauren O’Donnell, Western
Midfielder – Jessica Viera, Western
Midfielder – Brianne Desa, Brock
Midfielder – Ann-Carolyn Lang, Guelph
Midfielder – Grace Grafham, McMaster
Striker – Gagan Parhar, Laurier
Striker – Samantha Bayer, Brock

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